You don’t have to be hip on the Final Fantasy games and/or Irish mythology to appreciate this new LEGO render by Daniel Vermeir called Mag Mell’s Gatehouse. A moment ago, I was hip to neither, but you’d be surprised how a little Googling can save and/or destroy your journalistic integrity. In the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series Mag Mell is home to carbuncles, creatures that live for thousands of years and have extensive knowledge of the world around them. But according to Irish mythology, Mag Mell was a pleasurable heathen’s paradise that can be reached only through death and glory. It’s sort of like Plato’s Retreat except with fewer stains on the shag carpeting. Regardless of where this creation takes inspiration from, I really love its eerie, dilapidated watery goodness.
In Chinese mythology, the Nian is a monster who emerges at the end of the year to terrorize villages. Luckily, it’s a cowardly beast. Red lanterns and robes, combined with a healthy dose of explosive fireworks, are enough to drive it away for another year. LEGO brings this myth to life in LEGO 80106 Story of Nian, part of their Chinese Spring Festival theme. This set was announced back in November at the 3rd China International Import Exhibition, and will be available to buy on January 10th, 2021. Containing 1067 pieces and retailing for US $79.99 | CAN $109.99 | UK £59.99, this set has six minifigures, a village playset, and the Nian itself. That sounds pretty cool, but can it appeal to a wide audience? Let’s take close look and see just what all the fuss is about!
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
If you are going to live high above the earth, looking down on the many millions of us humans on the surface, there can be no better place than Mount Olympus, built in miniature by KitKat1414 featuring some excellent rockwork, and a sparkling river flowing right through the middle, and some lovely light fluffy clouds, a few of which are fittingly made from white croissants.
The ancient woods have even older guardians, and this one does not seem like one to be trifled with. Named Tyto, the mighty beast is part owl and part lion, with the antlers of a stag. LEGO builder Joss Woodyard has expertly sculpted the chimera to achieve an organic, regal shape. The furry chest is made of Hero Factor armor pieces layered together, but it’s the wings that really sell the beast for me. The feathers are created with many different kinds of wing elements, but primarily several dozen white stylized wings from the Legends of Chima theme. They’re strung together with clips over a spine of flex tube to create the wings’ shapely curves.
Oh, and that name? Tyto is the Latin name for the genus containing owls. This magnificent beast will watch over all his feathered friends.
What could be more frightening than being chased by a monster that is part human, and part predator? One that tends to laugh maniacally all the while! Yannick Godts has created a wonderfully detailed monster to give any werewolf a run for its money. The use of the dark tan-colored palm leaves makes the perfect ruff on the werehyena’s back, while a red hand is a great way to show the lolling tongue.
I can’t help but wonder if in the olden days, tales of wonder and awe that spread through the tongues of villagers would somehow be dubbed as fake news today. I’m so glad that the fake news of the past centuries (AKA folk tales) still stands today though, simply because it’s harmless while capturing the imagination and awe of magical creatures like this Scottish Kelpie by JakTheMad. The shoulders and thighs and tail structure are accentuated by parts from buildable figures quite appropriately. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a horse rearing pose, although it requires some mad skills for balancing the centre of gravity with such a build.
This elegant LEGO dragon by builder Mitch Phillips is inspired by the red dragons from East Asian mythology that are said to bring good luck and happiness. I think it’s working, as this build makes me happy indeed. I love the elegant curves and the fact that many of the dragon’s scales are made from minifigure flippers. The red fins are complemented by orange Technic teeth as a different texture of scaling. Blue colors in the robot arms fingers and large fins mirror the crown of three-leaf plates in the head.
A closer look at that head reveals the intricate build in the eyes–highlighted by the use of the “One Ring” from the Lord of the Rings theme to add a touch of chromed bling. This dragon is fierce, but also a thing of beauty.
The annual BioCup competition is producing a wonderful range of LEGO Bionicle creations in many themes, but my favorite so far is Latin American mythology, with fantastical gods like the Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli by Tino Poutiainen. But my favorite so far is the Aztec rain god Tlāloc by Vlad Lisin. Tlāloc has characteristic round eyes and fangs, and wears a verdant crown with clouds encircling his waist. I love how Vlad uses click-joints for Tlāloc’s necklace, and the Bionicle mask at the top of the water flowing from the barrel is a brilliant use of parts.
Way back in 2006, I built the Aztec pantheon as minifigures — strange enough to go mildly viral through the “blogosphere” in the era before social media — but these latest figures show the power of large-scale builds using organic pieces from Bionicle and Hero Factory.
Can someone help me with a tech question? How do I set the parental controls so that my parents can’t watch Fox News? While The Brothers Brick IT team and I are working that out, I’d like to show you a fox of a different kind. This Kyuubi no Kitsune (Nine-tailed Fox) built by Jessica Farrell is a well-known character in Japanese folklore. Jessica tells us that this magical creature lives for an incredibly long time and grows a new tail for each century of spiritual training and wisdom. Upon gaining its ninth tail, the Kitsune has reached its full powers and its tails may begin to turn golden or white in color. Its natural form is that of an ordinary fox but the powerful Kitsune is able to shape-shift into other forms, particularly that of a beautiful young woman, and get up to all sorts of mischief!
She also tells us that this model is comprised of 4,304 elements and took three weeks to design and build. I am particularly fond of the intricate textured stones and the flowing brook. The entire setting instills a tranquil feeling for me and the Kitsune’s expression exudes wisdom. Now that is a Fox network I would watch!
In Greek mythology, Apollo is a somewhat complicated figure, so it seems only fitting that he’s the subject matter of Jason Allemann’s latest kinetic sculpture. Building upon his previous galloping horse, he’s expanded the moving parts in this creation to include the horse’s legs, bodies, necks, heads and tails, as well as the chariot body and wheels and Apollo himself. He’s done such a good job making the overall movement look natural, it can be hard to pick out what parts are actually moving independently of each other. It all just flows together quite well.
Like everything Jason designs, the mechanics behind it all are quite clever, but even without the movement, this would still be a well-designed static model. I really like the way he’s sculpted the head and face, using a simply gap between pieces to represent the eyes and brow. Also pleasing are the choices of gold elements to adorn the chariot, giving it that ancient and regal look. The relatively new 22 long hose with connector ends is an especially smart choice for the reins. Watch the video he made and take a moment to be mesmerized by the model’s motion and hear about all about the mechanics from Jason himself.
In order to fully appreciate this next creation, we’re going to have to define a couple of terms. The first is chibi. That’s a Japanese slang term that describes an art style where characters are drawn as small, chubby figures with exaggerated features. The second is Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, he was a king who was punished by the gods for his wicked ways. He is forced to push a giant boulder up an even bigger hill, only to have it roll back down every time it nears the top. At first glance, these two terms don’t seem to have a lot do to with each other. Leave it to Sheo to unify them into a really cute image of eternal torture. In this version, Sisyphus doesn’t have a boulder to push; instead, his over-sized chibi head is the enormous weight that has to be moved upwards.
Creative use of various arches and curved slopes creates an anguished, yet adorable, visage. The use of a curved brick for the leg gives a great sense of that upward pushing. I also like the detail of the 2×2 round tile for his belly, and let’s not ignore the build of the mountain either. The rocks are built out in all directions, with a combination of slopes, plates, and tiles giving some lively texture to the backdrop.
Builder Cindy Su invites us to find out more about Chinese myths with this wonderful little figural model of Zhongli Quan. Chinese mythology is rife with humans turned immortal, but perhaps the most famous among these is The 8 Immortals. Dating back to the Jin dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, the 8 mystical figures are part of the Taoist pantheon. They have been a subject of Chinese art and mythologies for centuries and are still popular today.
The subject of this particular build is Zhongli Quan. He is pictured here carrying his traditional large fan, imbued with the power to turn rocks into precious gold or silver and even resurrect the dead. The sculpting of his body shows off his rotund shape and the use of satellite dishes is perfect for his exposed chest and belly. His hairstyle, utilizing round balls gives the whole thing some wonderful shapes and texture. The hot dog buns as his ears is a particularly clever use of parts.
On her Flickr page, Cindy notes this figure as 1 of 8. I look forward to seeing her depictions of the other 7 immortals and their journey across the East Sea.